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United edge Taipans, go back-to-back

Title favourites Melbourne United have received a mighty scare before holding on for an 87-85 NBL win over a never-say-die Cairns Taipans.

United reiterated their bold plan to go through the 2021 season undefeated before the second round clash but had to dig deep at Cairns Pop-Up Arena to extend their record to 2-0.

Cairns never held the lead during the game but almost snatched victory at the death after a Scott Machado-led fourth term revival.

Machado at one stage struggled at 3-11 shooting but came alive in the fourth to help the Taipans reel in a 13-point deficit and trail 86-85 with 34 seconds left.

However, Machado failed to nail a three-point attempt on the fulltime buzzer as United breathed a sigh of relief.

Machado (19 points, six assists) couldn't stop 2020 semi-finalists Cairns (1-3 record) losing three straight home games for the first time since December 2018.

Last season's semifinalists United were led by Boomers starter Jock Landale (19 points from 7-10 field goal shooting, seven rebounds) after a mighty big-man duel with Cairns' Cam Oliver (17 points, 13 rebounds).

Landale was a huge inside presence but showed off his full range, at one stage nailing back-to-back three pointers.

"He just does so many things well for this team. He's an absolute competitor," United coach Dean Vickerman said.

Fellow United star Chris Goulding had 17 points.

United lived up to the hype in their season opening 24-point win over Adelaide 36ers and were not short of confidence on Monday, repeating their pre-season claim that the star-studded outfit may not drop a game in 2021.

And United backed up their swagger, looking untroubled early against a Cairns outfit that was hamstrung with Oliver on limited minutes after registering two fouls in the game's first 50 seconds.

United led 29-21 at the first break and by 14 in the second term before Cairns went on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to 51-45 by halftime.

After scores were level at 55-55, United shifted a gear in the third to frustrate the Taipans with head coach Mike Kelly receiving a technical foul before the visitors led 69-62 at the final break.

Machado got hot in the final term before Mirko Djeric (13 points) nailed a three pointer that cut the lead to 86-85 but it was all to no avail for Cairns.

"Was it one that got away? I think Melbourne deserved it because they played four quarters," Kelly said.